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GM Bans “Safety”

Destiny Baker3 years ago

Federal investigators reviewing GM’s ignition switch recall have uncovered a document in which GM discourages employees responsible for reporting potential safety concerns and defects from using 68 words, including “safety” and “defect.”

About the GM Training Materials

From unflattering tropes to unassuming adjectives, the list of words discouraged by GM is definitely one of the stranger items uncovered by federal investigators.

While it is understandable that an automaker may want to shy away from terms like “rolling sarcophagus,” “Kevorkianesque,” and “widow-maker,” other words on the list seem like they would be necessary for day-to-day communications.

For example, discouraging employees responsible for documenting potential safety issues from using the words “safety,” “problem,” and “defect” hardly seems like an effective business practice. Fortunately, the document does give some insight into GM’s reasoning behind the list.

According to GM, “defective” can be “regarded as a legal admission” and should be replaced with “does not perform to design.”  “Problem” could carry similar implications, thus employees are urged to call problems “conditions” or “matters.”

NHTSA Claims List Part of a Larger Problem Within GM

According to the Associated Press, David Friedman, the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), claims that the training materials reflect a larger issue at GM, an environment in which engineers were hesitant to send documents with words like “defect” up the letter.

In a hearing held last month, Senator Claire McCaskill claimed that similar actions taken by the automaker encouraged “a culture of cover-up” which allowed a GM engineer to “repeatedly lie under oath.”

Details of the GM Ignition Switch Recall

The training materials were uncovered as part as an ongoing investigation into GM’s recall of 2.6 million vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches.

According to recall releases, the faulty switches can shift from the “run” position to the “off” or “accessory” position while the car is being driven. This can result in power to the engine being cut, and the loss of multiple safety features including power steering, antilock brakes, and airbag functionality.

So far, GM has linked 13 deaths and 31 frontal collisions. The Center for Auto Safety claims the death toll is likely much higher, citing 303 deaths in just two of the recalled models.

Included in the recall are:

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